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GOING TO THE CITY OF BREAD TO EAT THE BREAD OF LIFE

A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS

2 JANUARY 1994

By Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor

SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES:

1 Kings 11:3, 6, 8, 11
Psalm 72:1-7
John 6:35
Ephesians 3:8-12

Our preparation verse for this morning, John 6:35, speaks to us of the special symbolism of the Lord's Supper, which we will be celebrating later in this service.

Let's listen again to these words of Jesus:

35. Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me shall not hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst."

Did we hear the requirements for not hungering and thirsting?

I pray so!

It's not only knowing who Jesus is, or believing that He existed, or even that He is the Son of God.

It also isn't only partaking of The Lord's Supper.

The requirement is that whoever comes to Jesus will not hunger.

We must come to Him.

And the second part is that we believe in Him – really believe; believe that He is God incarnate, that He was born for our salvation, that He died for our sins, that He rose from the dead, and that we accept Him as our Lord and Savior, personally.

On Christmas Eve we talked about the fact that the shepherds came, and last week and again this morning we sang of the kings, or magi, who came to Him.

Furthermore, they all worshipped Him, which is proof of their belief.

They came to the city of bread, Bethlehem, to partake of the bread of life, Jesus, so that they could drink of the cup of the Spirit of Life and never thirst again.

Now, if we go back in time some 950 years before the birth of Jesus, to the time of King Solomon, we find that he did exactly as Jesus tells us.

Solomon brought everything to the Lord in prayer and supplication, seeking the will of God and His strength to carry out what was called for, just as the magi and the shepherds did.

The first seven verses of Psalm 72 tell of one such time when Solomon came before the Lord:

1. Give the king Thy judgments, O God,
And Thy righteousness to the King's son.

2. May he judge Thy people with righteousness,
And Thine afflicted with justice.

This is an unselfish prayer, as should all of ours be, too.

Solomon is seeking to be God's man in the field; to be a king in whom the people will see the presence of God.

3. Let the mountains bring peace to the people,
And the hills in righteousness.

4. May he vindicate the afflicted of the people,
Save the children of the needy,
And crush the oppressor.

Solomon is looking out for the welfare of the people.

He wants God to protect them from evil oppressors and bring their own evilness down upon their heads.

5. Let them fear Thee while the Sun endures,
And as long as the moon, throughout all generations.

6. May he come down like rain upon the mown grass,
Like showers that water the earth.

7. In his days may the righteous flourish,
And abundance of peace till the moon is no more.

God granted Solomon's request, and for many years Israel had peace and comfort from their enemies.

But then Solomon became complacent; he stopped coming to the Lord.

He thought he was so important that he could do anything, and that it wouldn't matter.

He had other more important things upon his mind.

Sound familiar?

It should; because for thousands of years, even to this very day, people have been using similar excuses for not coming to God.

Listen to what we are told about Solomon in 1 Kings 11:3, 6, 8, and 11:

3. And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines, and his wives turned his heart away.

6. And Solomon did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, and did not follow the Lord fully, as David his father had done.

8. Thus also he did for all his foreign wives, who burned incense and sacrificed to their gods.

11. So the Lord said to Solomon, "Because you have done this, and you have not kept My covenant and My statutes, which I have commanded you, I will surely tear the kingdom from you, and will give it to your servant.

So much for the wisdom of Solomon which was greater than any one else’s. He didn't use it, and thus he lost it.

Solomon stopped coming to the Lord; thus he began to hunger for bread other than that leading to life.

He sought the unholy bread that his many wives were baking for him; and once he began eating it, he also became thirsty, for he no longer wholly believed in the Lord our God.

Thus, all of Israel suffered with him.

Christian leaders don't have the luxury of going their own way either; for their behavior will affect the wellbeing of others in their care, as well as those outside who watch.

And ordinary Christians don't have the luxury of going their own way, either.

Because we call ourselves Christians, we are obligated to set an example for the Christians who have fallen away, as well as for the non-believer who is watching in the wings.

And in the process of being Christians, we help strengthen each other.

Think about it for a moment. If all of us stopped coming to the Lord, there would be no service this morning and no reinforcement of our faith.

We wouldn't have the Communion with the Lord to remind us that as we come, so we eat; and that as we believe, we drink of the cup of life everlasting.

As we reinforce our faith, we come to realize who we really are before our holy God.

We see our sins, without making excuses for them, and truly seek the Lord's help to remove them from ourselves.

Listen to what the apostle Paul said of himself to the Ephesians in 3:8-12, and how he accepted the grace of God working through him for the benefit of all believers:

8. To me [Paul], the very least of all saints [meaning all true believers], this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ,

9. and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God, who created all things;

10. in order that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places.

When we come before the Lord with a repentant heart, it doesn't matter what mistakes we may have made; His grace cleanses us and gives us a new purpose in life.

And it is our collective life as Christians in the church and in the community that causes the changes in our government for the better.

But if we are hypocrites, then we will gain governments reflecting that hypocrisy as well.

I guess there must be a lot of hypocrites in the world!

Paul concludes this passage with one of the reasons why God does what He does:

11. This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord,

12. in whom we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him.

Then, we should live like this, with boldness and confidence that we are who we are in Christ who strengthens us.

And we should live this new life just as boldly and just as confidently before others.

But in everything, with the unconditional love and compassion that God showed us through His Son, we are to show others how and where to come for the bread of life, and to help them to believe that they will never thirst again.

Amen.

Your Comments are welcome

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